Newcastle Gas Storage Facility: Minister ignorant of serious concern raised by Hunter Water

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The Minister for Finance and Services Greg Pearce was today unaware of Hunter Water's concerns about the Newcastle Gas Storage Facility Project*, when questioned on the matter in the State Parliament.

Hunter Water made a submission to the Department of Planning on 8 August, expressing concern about threats to the lower Hunter's drinking water supply if the project was approved.

These concerns include indications that the direction of groundwater flow in the vicinity of this development is directly towards one of the drinking water borelines in the Tomago Aquifer.

"In a six minute answer to a very serious question, Mr Pearce did not come even close to addressing the issues raised," Shadow Minister for Water, Luke Foley said.

"What Parliament heard instead was a lot of waffling generalities and absolutely nothing substantive. Mr Pearce clearly did not have a clue as to what he was talking about.

"He did not refer once to the Newcastle Gas Storage Facility Project – clearly he has never heard of it. Greg Pearce has Ministerial responsibility for Hunter Water – yet he is completely unaware of Hunter Water's concerns.

"These aquifers supply water to the greater Newcastle area and the O'Farrell Government must guarantee appropriate protections if the project proceeds.

"The potential contamination to the groundwater is of huge importance, and the serious concerns of Hunter Water should not just be dismissed with nonsense rhetoric from the Minister.

"The Orica chemical leak has reinforced the need for strong environmental safeguards to protect Hunter residents living near heavy industry," said Mr Foley.

*AGL Energy Limited proposes to develop the Newcastle Gas Storage Facility Project within the Tomago Sandbeds Catchment Area, which includes the Tomago Aquifers - which supply up to 25 per cent of the lower Hunter's drinking water.